Casa Grande beats Petaluma, 22-7

By BOB PADECKY
PRESS DEMOCRAT SPORTS COLUMNIST

PETALUMA — By his standards, Nick Sherry wasn’t his dominant self Friday night. Casa Grande’s quarterback was 13 of 21 for 133 yards, two touchdowns to go along with two interceptions. He was effective at times, other times he wasn’t. Not that the look on his face after the game reflected any of that. He was wearing that Egg Bowl smile.

Petaluma's Adam Nizibian gets called for pass interference while defending against Casa's Makana Garrigan in the second quarter of the Egg Bowl on Friday. (Scott Manchester / For The PD)

“This is a game I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said the Colorado-bound senior. “I could care less about my numbers. It’s the Egg Bowl. We have it.”

Casa Grande outlasted Petaluma, 22-7, in the 37th meeting of the crosstown rivals in a game that, for the most part, had Petaluma, now 1-6, playing Casa, now 5-1, even.

“The score didn’t seem 22-7 to me,” said Petaluma coach Rick Krist.

“You made it interesting,” I said.

“Yeah, and that seems to be the story of our season,” Krist replied.

Casa may be emerging as the SCL favorite, but it will walk away from this Egg Bowl knowing that there may never be more of a misleading record than the 1-6 that Petaluma possesses.

“We had our chance, and I know people didn’t give us much of a chance,” Krist said. “But my guys never quit. I am so proud of them. Just like what happened on the first play of the game.”

Casa’s Javonie Oden took the opening kickoff and returned it 85 yards to the Petaluma seven. Two incomplete passes later, Sherry found Makana Garrison in the end zone. Groan, that was the sound that came from the Petaluma grandstand. The rout was on.

No it wasn’t. It took 11 plays and 66 yards, but Petaluma’s Patrick Hodges stuffed it over from the eight and with 6:35 left in the first quarter, the game was tied and, more important, the Trojans had answered the Gauchos. That it was Petaluma’s only score of the game was more of a fact of frustration for Krist.

Petaluma reached Casa’s 24 in the second quarter, but Casa’s Anthony Poole intercepted Petaluma’s Spencer Neve. Petaluma reached the Casa 18 just before half, but the drive stalled.

Petaluma had a first and goal at the Casa 8 with four minutes left in the third quarter, but a stout Casa put together a memorable goal-line stand. Later in the third quarter, Petaluma had a first-and-10 at the Casa, courtesy of a partially blocked punt. Again the Gaucho defense held, and Patrick Rabbitt’s 35-yard field goal was wide right.

Yes, the Trojans had their chances. Casa Grande, to counter, had just enough. Sherry threw a nine-yard touchdown to Poole with 3:55 left before the half, that coming after a first-quarter Casa sack of Neve for a safety. Michael Lelmorini nailed the game shut with a three-yard run with 6:03 left in the game.

At the end of the game, Casa students rushed the field to cries of “Egg Bowl! Egg Bowl!” and no one felt the victory any more deeply than Casa coach Trent Herzog. The trophy was back on the east side of town after a two-year absence. And it literally meant the world to Herzog.

“I have such respect for the Petaluma program,” Herzog said, “that I’d rather go 1-9 with that one win over Petaluma than go 9-1 with that one loss to Petaluma. To me this is like Cal and Stanford, or like the old 49er-Rams rivalry. It means that much to me.”

And it means Casa is one step closer to a goal that might rival or even surpass winning the Egg Bowl.

“We want the NCS (North Coast Section),” Sherry said. “That’s our goal.”

And Friday night, the way Casa and Sherry would like to look at it, the NCS trophy would make a nice bookend with the Egg Bowl one. Winning is framed by perspective, and Casa’s players beating the Petaluma players, the ones that had played together on the same team in youth football here, offers a clear perspective. Nothing is as satisfying as beating your friends.

For more on North Bay sports, go to Bob Padecky’s blog at padecky.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.